Basketball player Ja Morant was suspended by the NBA on March 15 for eight games after he flashed a gun on his Instagram Live account while at a strip club. His careless social media share and other recent incidents spurred major criticism and made headlines. This criticism is valid — professional athletes carry a lot of weight to be role models for kids and inspire those around them. But I pray for his father.
Yes, Ja is an adult, and he is making some poor decisions, but I’m praying for his father. Children are desperate for strong father figures in their lives to set them straight and encourage them in their faith, work ethic, and character.
When I was younger, I had a good dad who would set me straight if I strayed off the path. Authentic character-building does not come from following a movie star or sports figure. Those people can inspire us, but if we allow them to lead our children, we should not be surprised when our children ultimately make tragic mistakes. Character-building comes from a strong parent willing to take the time, energy, and resources to invest in a child’s future.
Pop culture and even schools have glamorized sin, and if parents do not step in, our children will not know any better than to model their lives after their favorite singer or NBA player. Life is not a rap song, and fathers need to be in the home enforcing moral principles for their children, because children are not going to receive this kind of support anywhere else.
In the Bible’s book of Matthew, Jesus says to his disciples, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Without proper instruction, children are easily led down a dangerous path of sin.
Fathers influence the mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of their children. But sadly, many children are spending more time with celebrities on Instagram than with their own fathers.
Teachers are also being instructed to hide things from parents and even telling children not to disclose information to their parents. All this sin destroys the nuclear family, and we continue to act surprised when our children suffer from mental health disorders or have behavioral issues in school.
We need to encourage fathers as role models — not celebrities or teachers. With the fatherlessness crisis on the rise in our culture, it is not a surprise that American children are struggling. There are 18.4 million fatherless children, and more than 24 million children living without a biological father, in the United States.
Studies show that children from single-parent families are twice as likely to suffer from mental health problems. We need to pray for the fathers. We need to incentivize fathers to stay in their homes. We need to put the focus back on the American family and speak openly about this undeniable crisis in our nation.
We need celebrities, athletes, and politicians to stop ignoring that many problems are a byproduct of fatherlessness. For better or for worse, parents, especially fathers, are shaping their children’s lives. Join me in praying for fathers.
“And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” – Malachi 4:6